Thousands of Germany′s Turks protest ahead of Erdogan speech in Cologne | News | DW | 24.05.2014
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Thousands of Germany's Turks protest ahead of Erdogan speech in Cologne

Tens of thousands of protesters have rallied against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the German city of Cologne. His visit has sparked much controversy.

Some 40,000 people on Saturday protested in Cologne against Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party ahead of a planned speech by the Turkish premier to his conservative supporters.

Protesters waved banners accusing Erdogan of corruption and non-democratic behavior, as well as denouncing him over Turkey's recent mining disaster and his government's response to it.

Erdogan caused outrage among many Turks owing to seemingly indifferent remarks saying that mining accidents were in "the nature of the business." Anger was further fueled by photos showing his advisor Yusuf Erkel kicking a protester in the town of Soma where the accident occurred, killing 301 people.

Police made several arrests on Saturday morning after intervening in scuffles between Erdogan supporters and security staff guarding the venue where the Turkish premier was due to deliver a speech.

Cologne is a major center for the three million Turks or people with Turkish roots in Germany.

Troubled visit

Erdogan's long-scheduled visit to Germany has caused days of controversy, with some accusing him of using the event to make a campaign speech ahead of August presidential elections in which is he is expected to run. For the first time, Turks living overseas - including about 1.5 million in Germany - will be eligible to vote.

Erdogan's recent controversial policies, such as blocking Twitter and YouTube, have also aroused the ire of some German commentators.

"Erdogan, you're not welcome here!... We do not want politicians like you," the Bild newspaper wrote in an open letter.

Chancellor Angela Merkel this week also urged the premier to show "a sense of responsibility and sensitivity" during his visit.

tj/lw (AFP, dpa)

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